Commissioner Initiates Study Of Alternative Stadium Site
By Paola Iuspa
A group of residents and Miami employees headed by City Commissioner Johnny Winton are directing a financial study to determine feasibility of a new ballpark downtown on 13 acres north of the Miami River, a site the Florida Marlins earlier rejected.
Mr. Winton said his group plans to hire a sports stadium finance expert to study ways to pay for land and building costs for a $400 million Marlins stadium and the infrastructure needed to make the location accessible.
"We could give the financing study to the Community Improvement Authority to go over it," said Robert Weinreb, an aide to Mr. Winton, referring to a state-created, nine-member group in charge of finding ways to finance a ballpark in Miami-Dade.
Mr. Winton’s move came a week after Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and Marlins owner John Henry signed a letter of intent to build a 40,000-seat stadium paid for mostly with public money. The agreement calls for the city to give the land in a "site acceptable to the team and the city."
Mr. Henry said Bicentennial Park, east of Biscayne Boulevard, is the only place with enough space for a stadium with a retractable roof and parking for 1,500 cars.
Mr. Winton and his group say giving away 15 to 17 acres of city-owned land in the 30-acre waterfront park for a stadium is not right.
"I want to develop our own financing plan for the Marlins on the river," Mr. Winton said last week.
City sources put the assessed value of Bicentennial Park at $8.5 million an acre.
The Miami River Commission estimates the value of the Miami River site at $3.5 million an acre.
To get more space for the baseball stadium, Mr. Winton said his group also will ask FPL to sell a lot adjacent to the 13-acre site.